Tech Windows Stuff

Warning: Nerd Stuff!

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We can say I have had a month. A month, in this case, being the 30 days prior to this one, not a month like you see on your calendar. I know, it’s like the new math, but try to keep up.


I was tasked with replacing the ancient Windows Server 2003 (circa 2007) and Windows XP Filemaker Server (!) (circa 2006) earlier in the year. A single replacement sourced to replace 2 machines, easy peasy. Costs were told, ideas about buying new or refurbishes shot, budget was approved, and I went to work!

[A Team Theme here]

A series of calls to my friendly, neighborhood Dell server specialist to build a reasonably priced machine that could serve as both Active Directory (re: nerd stuff) and Filemaker (re: nerd database stuff) server. Done, done and done as the kids say. Now, in my server closet, quietly hums a very nice server with 16 cores of processing power, 16GB of RAM with a pair of 500GB drives (RAID 1, re: more nerd stuff). Fast and quiet, I’m happy.

So, configuration begins. I’ve done this before, so I wasn’t worried. Also, needs are low and the user base is small, so most defaults are completely adequate. As a bonus, we use Google Apps for email (suck it Exchange), so I don’t have that nightmare to deal with.

The tricky part, at least for me, was still to come. You see, I was upgrading from Server 2003 to Server 2008. I’ve never done that before. I’ve added servers to systems or where one didn’t previously exist. Migrating from one to the other, not so much. So, to the goog!

Oh, easy. Well, easy enough. And everything was going along quiet nicely if I do say so myself. I was even able to remove the old server from the network and the new one did it’s thing. Rad? Rad!

I _might_ have gotten over confident. The minute I start to decommission the old server, the new server got lonely and started being mean and nasty. Great I say. Just. Great. No worries, I say, I’ll just bring the old one back from a backup.

Ahem. I said, I’ll just bring the old server back from backup.

About that. This system was something that I inherited. I had no control over the original setup or configuration of this system and have been keeping my fingers in the dyke to keep everything running smoothly. Including the backup. All of the user data was being pushed (up hill in frozen molasses) to Carbonite and the system was being backed up by our old imaging friend Acronis. Which, as it turns out, doesn’t like to work with USB KVM switches. A fact I learned about **after** the restore failed about 20 minutes in.

As awesome as that sounds, it really wasn’t. In very short order (the span of about 6 hours) I had to start the new server back from almost factory (just dcpromo’d, not a full restore), and do what I’ve done many times before. Build an Active Directory domain, from scratch, including all new user accounts.

Sure, that sounds pretty awesome too, right? I know. Trust me, I was there. It gets better. Not only did I have to build a new domain, and all that entails, but I also had to rejoin all of the workstations to the ‘new’ domain. I swear, it was like a party in there that night. Really!

To make this long story even longer, the entire process ended up taking me close to 3 full days. The new server should be repopulated with Carbonite sometime mid-2016 and the server is backing up to the tape drive using Windows Backup (for now). Everyone can log in, access their data and the network. It’s been rough, but I’m just about finished. This weekend I get to bring the new Filemaker server online and upgrade all of the workstations to the latest version of Filemaker Pro. It’s mind numbingly boring but I expect it to complete without issue.

The final piece to the great upgrade of 2012-2013 will be ditching the very, very old Dell switch with a new, shiny Dell switch that is managed and supports speeds greater than 10/100. Good grief, 10/100? What is this, the 20th Century?

The story you just read was true. The names weren’t changed to protect the innocent. I just wanted to write.

2 replies on “Warning: Nerd Stuff!”

DUDE! I totally feel for you. Been in those shoes and I have nothing but the greatest appreciation for it. The only plus I saw in there was no exchange! They are damn lucky to have you. I am sure they less than appreciated the complexity of it, but that is just a nod to how good you are at what you do. Well done, now have a beer. Actually, 4 beers.. I just remembered you said 10/100 network. Cringe!! πŸ™‚

Thanks Jason! I’ll have a beer on Saturday once I implement the Filemaker server part. and start planning for my vacation πŸ˜‰

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